The Big Valley

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The Big Valley
The Big Valley.jpg
Title card
Created byA.I. Bezzerides
Louis F. Edelman
StarringBarbara Stanwyck
Richard Long
Lee Majors
Linda Evans
Peter Breck
ComposerGeorge Duning
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes112 (list of episodes)
Running time50 minutes
Production companiesLevy-Gardner-Laven Productions
Four Star Television
DistributorFour Star International
Original networkABC
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseSeptember 15, 1965 (1965-09-15) –
May 19, 1969 (1969-05-19)
Sierra Railway Engine #3 at the old Jamestown, California Depot, for the filming of the pilot episode of The Big Valley, 1965

The Big Valley is an American Western drama television series that ran on the American Broadcasting Company Network (ABC) from September 15, 1965, to May 19, 1969 — four seasons. The series is set on the fictional Barkley Ranch in Stockton, California, from 1876-1878. The one-hour episodes follow the lives of the Barkley family, one of the wealthiest and largest ranch-owning families in Stockton, led by matriarch Victoria Barkley (Barbara Stanwyck) and her sons Jarrod (Richard Long), Heath (Lee Majors), and Nick (Peter Breck), and daughter Audra (Linda Evans). The series begins about 6 years after the death of the family patriarch, Thomas Barkley. Although he is never shown in the series (other than a painting), the character of Thomas Barkley is referred to as a major plot point many times. The character of Heath Barkley is introduced in episode one as the illegitimate son of Tom Barkley. His presence and claim to the Barkley name is the focus of many of the dramatic plots in season one. While the successful and rich are often portrayed, in present day, as the unscrupulous villains, the Barkley family is portrayed as the upstanding citizens of Stockton, modeling justice, fairness, and oftentimes, going against popular sentiment to uphold the underdog's rights. The series was created by A.I. Bezzerides and Louis F. Edelman, and produced by Levy-Gardner-Laven for Four Star Television.

Historical setting[edit]

The TV series was based loosely on the Hill Ranch, which was located at the western edge of Calaveras County, not far from Stockton.[1] The Hill Ranch existed from 1855 until 1931, included almost 30,000 acres, and the Mokelumne River ran through it.[1] The source is from an episode in which Heath is on trial in a ghost town with another man (played by Leslie Nielsen), and tells the judge how much land they have. Lawson Hill ran the ranch until he was murdered in 1861. His wife Euphemia ("Auntie Hill") then became the matriarch. During their marriage, they had four children, one daughter and three sons.[1] Today, the location of the ranch is covered by the waters of Camanche Reservoir. A California state historical marker standing at Camanche South Shore Park mentions the historic ranch.

In the first episode, titled "Palms of Glory", the grave of Thomas Barkley (1813–1870) is shown after it is commented that he had fought the railroad six years before. Later in the same episode, Frank Braun reminds Nick, Jarrod, and Eugene "Six years ago, your daddy and mine fought and died for this," indicating the year is 1876. The episode "The Odyssey of Jubal Tanner" gives conflicting information. Audra states that her father died six years ago, which would—per "Palms of Glory"—point to 1876, but Jubal seems to imply that he has been gone 30 years since his wife Margaret Tanner's death, her grave marker showing that she had died in 1854, which would put the year around 1884. In the second-season episode "Hide the Children", Nick makes reference that President Ulysses Simpson Grant is in the White House. Grant's term of office was from March 4, 1869, to March 4, 1877. In the fourth- and final-season episode "They Called Her Delilah", the telegram Jarrod received from Julia Saxon dated April 27, 1878, can be seen on screen.[2] In the fourth-season episode "The Prize", Heath buries the wife of an outlaw, adding a grave marker dated May 5, 1878. In the episode "The Jonah", the band at a town dance can be heard playing Johann Strauss II's "Emperor Waltz" or "Kaiser-Walzer". The waltz was first performed in Berlin on October 21, 1889, which, by the time it would have reached the American West, would indicate a time period of 1890 or later. However, since that seems to be much later than other historical references in the show, it may well have been a simple production mistake.[weasel words]



The Big Valley main cast.
Left to right: Long, Majors, Evans, Stanwyck, and Breck
L-R: Linda Evans, Barbara Stanwyck, Richard Long, Peter Breck, Lee Majors, and Charles Briles (1965)
  • Victoria Barkley, portrayed by Barbara Stanwyck, was the widow of Thomas Barkley. She was the head of the wealthy, influential Barkley family who lived in 19th-century Stockton in California's Central Valley. She was the main character of the series. Victoria Barkley was the owner and head of the Barkley ranch. In fact, Stanwyck's refusal to portray Barkley as fragile was controversial at the time. Barkley's husband Tom had been killed six years before the beginning of the series. Victoria Barkley loved and was proud of all her children, including her late husband's illegitimate son Heath, to whom she would refer as "my son". Stanwyck, who went from the refined, elegant lady of the manor to a jean-clad cowgirl as tough as any cowboy, appeared the most, in 103 of the 112 episodes. Her episodes were often surprisingly hard-hitting, seeing her character either locked away in a lunatic asylum to prevent her testifying as eyewitness at a murder trial ("Down Shadow Street"), taken prisoner in a prison wagon to replace a dead female convict ("Four Days to Furnace Hill"), impersonating a thief to go undercover at a women's prison to report on conditions there ("Alias Nellie Handley"), or trapped underground following a cave-in ("Earthquake").
  • Jarrod Thomas Barkley, the eldest son, was a respected attorney-at-law. Richard Long played the role of the educated, refined and calmer of the Barkley sons, who handled all of the family's legal and business affairs. While Jarrod, a skilled lawyer, preferred the law to settle disputes, he was known to resort to frontier justice and violence when necessary. He was briefly married in one episode ("Days of Wrath"), only to see his new wife murdered with a bullet intended for him. An enraged Jarrod lost his calm and genteel manners, then relentlessly tracked down the killer. He was in the midst of killing him with his bare hands before he was stopped by Nick and Heath. Jarrod was a veteran of the American Civil War. He served as a cavalry officer in the Union Army. He commanded a cavalry troop of black soldiers as referenced in the episode "The Buffalo Man". Long appeared in 98 of the 112 episodes.
  • Nicholas "Nick" Jonathan Barkley, the hot-tempered younger son, was portrayed by Peter Breck. Nick managed the family ranch. He wore a black leather vest, large black hat, and black leather gloves, and was distinguished by his brawling ways and loud demeanor. Nick had served as a soldier in combat in the Union Army during the Civil War as referenced in the episode "Forty Rifles". He was always ready for a fight, and at times would fight with his brothers, as well. Underneath his gruff exterior, he was fun-loving, had a great sense of humor, was warm and caring, and loved his family deeply. Breck appeared in 98 of the 112 episodes.(Several years prior to starring in The Big Valley, Breck starred in his own series for Four Star Television, Black Saddle, which aired on NBC).
  • Audra Barkley, played by Linda Evans, was Victoria's only daughter. Audra was somewhat self-absorbed, bold, and forward. Far from demure, she performed daring stunts and rode astride, like her brothers. Like Nick and Jarrod, Audra was initially leery of Heath's story that he was their father's son. Early, she attempted to seduce Heath so as to expose him as a fraud, but was unsuccessful. As the series progressed, Audra and Heath formed a very close brother-and-sister bond. Audra also had a caring side as seen by her tending to children at the local orphanage. A few episodes dealt with her romances, and one notable episode was "My Son, My Son" in which Robert Walker Jr. guests as a suitor who proves to be mentally unstable. During the series' final two seasons, Evans' appearances were reduced because she wanted to spend more time with her husband John Derek. Evans appeared the least, in 82 of the 112 episodes.
  • Heath Barkley was the illegitimate son of Victoria's late husband, and he had to literally fight his way into the Barkley home. Lee Majors portrayed even-tempered but rough and tumble Heath, who was often angry and aggressive throughout the early episodes due to his belief that Tom Barkley had abandoned his real mother after she became pregnant, as well as the resistance he initially received from some of his new siblings. In truth, Tom Barkley never knew about Heath, as Heath's mother had never told him, and never told Heath until she was on her deathbed (as revealed in the third episode of season one, "Boots with My Father's Name".) Heath gradually gained acceptance from the rest of the Barkley clan as the first season progressed until he became as much a "Barkley" as the rest of the family, and his love for them became equal. Heath came to call Victoria "Mother" when speaking to her directly and about her with his siblings. In the episode "Boots with My Father's Name", Heath told Victoria, "you know that there isn't anything that I wouldn't do for you," indicating how deeply he cared for Victoria. Although Nick was initially leery of Heath and felt he had to test Heath's mettle, Heath proved himself worthy of Nick's acceptance, and eventually Nick seemed to grow even closer to Heath than he was to Jarrod, perhaps in a sense due to Heath having more in common with him than did Jarrod. In "The Lost Treasure", the series' season-two premiere, one of a few episodes taken out of the show's initial syndication runs, Heath met Charlie Sawyer (comic Buddy Hackett in a rare dramatic turn), a con man who claimed to be his actual father (the final moments show him admitting he did romance Heath's mother, but left her years before she gave birth). In the same episode, Beah Richards returns as Hannah, the black quasi-nanny who helped raise Heath with his mother. Heath was a veteran of the Civil War as referenced in the episode "The Guilt of Matt Bentell". He served as a soldier in the Union Army in combat operations in New Mexico, and was held as a prisoner of war for seven months by Confederate forces. Heath was also established in the episode "The Death Merchant" as having been involved in the Lincoln County War (1878), where he came to know the hired killer "Handy", who had tracked down and killed Tom Barkley's murderer, but who is known by Heath as a merciless killer who changed sides - or played both sides - whenever the money was good. Majors appeared in 97 of the 112 episodes.

In addition to the Barkley family members, the episode plots typically revolved around morally conflicted protagonists and antagonists, a common theme in the mythology of the American West in the 19th century.


  • The youngest Barkley son was Eugene, a medical student studying at Berkeley, played by Charles Briles. Like his older brothers, he was known to have a temper as seen in the season-one episode "Boots with My Father's Name". He appeared in eight first-season episodes. Then, he was drafted into the Army. Only once was his name ever mentioned again.
  • More Barkley family lore: In one episode, when Victoria is absent, she is said to be visiting her unnamed sister in Denver. In the episode "Image of Yesterday", she is revealed to have almost married a dreamer named David Wincup (Dan O'Herlihy) before settling with her husband.
  • Douglas Kennedy, formerly of Steve Donovan, Western Marshal appeared 20 times as Sheriff Fred Madden.
  • The regular cast was rounded out by Napoleon Whiting as Silas, the Barkley's majordomo, who appeared 35 times. In several episodes, his character showed the trauma of slavery ("Joshua Watson"), life for blacks after the Civil War ("The Buffalo Man"), and meaning in his own work for the family ("Miranda").


Barbara Stanwyck, Michael Burns and Colleen Dewhurst in episode "A Day of Terror" (1966)
Episode "In Silent Battle", Barbara Stanwyck and Adam West (1968)

Season 1: 1965–66[edit]

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Peter Packer Original air date
11"Palms of Glory"William GrahamChristopher KnopfSeptember 15, 1965 (1965-09-15)
As the railroad brings in gunmen to force the ranchers and farmers off their land, the Barkley family leads the fight against the railroad, while a mysterious and angry young man arrives, claiming to be the son of the late Tom Barkley.
22"Forty Rifles"Bernard McEveetyChristopher KnopfSeptember 22, 1965 (1965-09-22)
While adjusting to his new life with the Barkley family, Heath has a difficult time being accepted by the ranch hands. Upon being forced to lead them on a long cattle drive alone after Nick is shot, the man behind the shooting, Nick's old friend and now delusional former commanding officer, who is now looking to relive past glories, attempts to relieve Heath of his men with promises of a better and richer life.
33"Boots with My Father's Name"Joseph H. LewisStory by : Mel Goldberg & Les Pine & Tina Rome
Teleplay by : Mel Goldberg
September 29, 1965 (1965-09-29)
As a pair of boots belonging to the late Tom Barkley that only fit Heath, proves awkward for him and stokes yet more resentment prior to an occasion to honor the late Barkley patriarch in Stockton, Victoria decides to investigate the relationship between Heath's birth mother and her late husband, despite what she discovers, and no matter the cost.
44"The Young Marauders"Paul WendkosPeter PackerOctober 6, 1965 (1965-10-06)
While out riding, Audra's life is saved by a young man who appears to be a knight in shining armor. She begins seeing the young man further, but he begins to arouse suspicion as a series of attacks and extortion attempts on neighboring ranchers begins taking place, just after his clan and he arrived in the valley.
55"The Odyssey of Jubal Tanner"Arnold LavenPaul SavageOctober 13, 1965 (1965-10-13)
An old and close friend of Victoria and the late Tom Barkley's arrives in the valley to claim land promised to him by them years prior, just as highly anticipated plans are being made by Jarrod, Nick, and the people of Stockton to construct a dam on the same land.
66"Heritage"Paul WendkosCarey WilberOctober 20, 1965 (1965-10-20)
Heath investigates a series of violent acts in a mining town where the residents, living in poverty, have a deep-seated grudge against the owners of the mines, including the Barkleys.
77"Winner Lose All"Richard C. SarafianHarry KronmanOctober 27, 1965 (1965-10-27)
Heath falls for a beautiful young Spanish woman whose father disapproves of him on the basis of family purity of bloodlines and heritage, and threatens to destroy the neighboring ranchers if Heath continues seeing her.
88"My Son, My Son"Paul HenreidPaul SchneiderNovember 3, 1965 (1965-11-03)
As the family celebrates Audra's birthday, she encounters an unexpected guest - a childhood friend and son of friends of the Barkleys, now a young man who proves to be mentally unstable and attempts to sexually assault her.
99"Earthquake!"Paul HenreidOliver CrawfordNovember 10, 1965 (1965-11-10)
As the Barkley family frantically searches for her following a large earthquake, Victoria is trapped underground with a pregnant Indian woman, and a man whom Nick has recently fired, and who hates the Barkleys.
1010"The Murdered Party"Virgil W. VogelJack CurtisNovember 17, 1965 (1965-11-17)
Heath Barkley is witness in a murder trial to a man whom Jarrod Barkley is compelled to defend no matter the cost.
1111"The Way to Kill a Killer"Joseph M. NewmanJudith and Robert Guy BarrowsNovember 24, 1965 (1965-11-24)
Cattle belonging to a friend of the Barkleys begin to perish due to a strange disease. Would they find a cure?
1212"Night of the Wolf"Joseph H. LewisMargaret ArmenDecember 1, 1965 (1965-12-01)
Bitten by a rabid wolf, Nick decides to go away and wait out the incubation period alone, to spare his family the grief.
1313"The Guilt of Matt Bentell"Lewis AllenPaul SavageDecember 8, 1965 (1965-12-08)
Heath becomes hostile to the Barkley's new ranch foreman, who he claims was once the commander of a prison camp.
1414"The Brawlers"Joseph PevneyWilliam W. NortonDecember 15, 1965 (1965-12-15)
Nick clashes with the head of Irish immigrants who settled illegally on Barkley land, thinking they purchased it.
1515"Judgement in Heaven"Murray GoldenMel GoldbergDecember 22, 1965 (1965-12-22)
Hoping to reform an outlaw's girlfriend, Jarrod has her spend Christmas with the Barkleys.
1616"The Invaders"Arnold LavenJay SimmsDecember 29, 1965 (1965-12-29)
While out on the range investigating some dead cattle, Heath is ambushed by a gang of ruthless raw-hiders, who first decide to bring him back to the Barkley ranch in anticipation of a large reward, but upon finding that the men of the ranch are all gone on a cattle drive, they much more remains to be plundered.
1717"By Fires Unseen"Ralph SenenskyKen TreveyJanuary 5, 1966 (1966-01-05)
Nick returns home from a trip with a big surprise for the Barkley family - a fiancée. His bliss is short-lived however, as he soon learns his wife to be is not yet ready to settle down with one man.
1818"A Time to Kill"Bernard McEveetyPeter PackerJanuary 19, 1966 (1966-01-19)
William Shatner guest stars as Jarrod's old college buddy, who comes for a visit, trailed by a Secret Service agent who is convinced that he is a counterfeiter.
1919"Teacher of Outlaws"Michael RitchieLou MorheimFebruary 2, 1966 (1966-02-02)
An outlaw kidnaps Victoria Barkley, believing her to be the town's schoolteacher, to teach him how to read and write.
2020"Under a Dark Star"Michael RitchieKen TreveyFebruary 9, 1966 (1966-02-09)
A recently released ex-convict under the care and protection of Jarrod Barkley comes face to face with men who are out to make his life hell on the Barkley ranch, driving him to turn against the lawyer.
2121"Barbary Red"Michael RitchieJudith BarrowsFebruary 16, 1966 (1966-02-16)
On his birthday, Nick Barkley and two ranch workers enter a saloon to celebrate, but things take a twist as Nick ends up bound to crew upon a vessel to be a slave. Jarrod Barkley senses that the head saloon girl is behind it, but fights his feelings for her.
2222"The Death Merchant"Bernard McEveetyJay SimmsFebruary 23, 1966 (1966-02-23)
When the man who killed the killer of the late Tom Barkley arrives at the Barkley ranch, the Barkleys are elated to see him - except for Heath, who knows the man for being far different from what the rest of the Barkleys think he is.
2323"The Fallen Hawk"Paul HenreidKen PettusMarch 2, 1966 (1966-03-02)
A mysterious friend of Heath's is injured in a bet due to money issues. Heath holds this hard feeling that he is responsible, but ends up assisting his wife at their home.
2424"Hazard"Arnold LavenHarry KronmanMarch 9, 1966 (1966-03-09)
A man arrives at the ranch looking for Heath, but is bushwhacked by two bounty hunters. Heath believes he should die, but Jarrod investigates the man, which leads him into a dangerous town whose residents have questionable motives.
2525"Into the Widow's Web"Virgil W. VogelStory by : Ken Trevey
Teleplay by : Ken Trevey and Gerry Day
March 23, 1966 (1966-03-23)
Heath meets an old girlfriend from his hometown of Strawberry, but ends up in jail when her husband is murdered under strange circumstances. Is he the killer or not? Jarrod Barkley investigates and ends up making a shocking discovery, but is opposed by a lawyer who is jealous of him.
2626"By Force and Violence"Virgil W. VogelPeter PackerMarch 30, 1966 (1966-03-30)
When Victoria and Heath take a wagon full of supplies up to the Barkley lodge to prepare for the arrival of the rest of family, their pleasant ride soon turns into a nightmare.
2727"The River Monarch"Sutton RoleyStory by : Carey Wilbur
Teleplay by : Carey Wilber and Mel Goldberg
April 6, 1966 (1966-04-06)
A boy discovers the wreckage of a long-lost riverboat, the River Monarch. Victoria is appalled that persons accused her husband the late Tom Barkley of sinking the boat, which was said to be carrying a large shipment of gold. Nick Barkley encounters a mysterious woman in the meanwhile.
2828"The Midas Man"Arnold LavenMargaret ArmenApril 13, 1966 (1966-04-13)
Audra falls for a shrewd financier, who has come to the valley to capitalize on a drought that has left most of the ranchers in need of loans.
2929"Tunnel of Gold"Virgil W. VogelArthur Browne Jr.April 20, 1966 (1966-04-20)
Bert's new store is used by outlaws who tunnel into the next building, where Barkley gold is to be stored.
3030"Last Train to the Fair"Virgil W. VogelPaul SavageApril 27, 1966 (1966-04-27)
The Barkleys are on their way by train to the fair in Sacramento, when Audra is stricken with a severe case of appendicitis. Fortunately, a doctor is on board, but unfortunately he is being chased by men who wish to see him hang.

Season 2: 1966–67[edit]

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
311"Lost Treasure"Arthur H. NadelJack CurtisSeptember 12, 1966 (1966-09-12)
A man arrives at the Barkley Ranch and claims that he is Heath's father. In the meanwhile, Heath questions his parentage.
322"Legend of a General: Part 1"Virgil W. VogelKen PettusSeptember 19, 1966 (1966-09-19)
A ruthless dictator hunts for a general in Mexico, whom the Barkleys help escape his clutches.
333"Legend of a General: Part 2"Virgil W. VogelKen PettusSeptember 26, 1966 (1966-09-26)
Heath Barkley is held prisoner in Mexico for his part in the general's escape in exchange for the general, who is conflicted whether to return to Mexico or not, as Heath's life is in the balance.
344"Caesar's Wife"Virgil W. VogelHarry KronmanOctober 3, 1966 (1966-10-03)
A young man's stepmom vies for his affections, whereas Audra Barkley is accused of having feelings for him.
355"Pursuit"Virgil W. VogelMargaret ArmenOctober 10, 1966 (1966-10-10)
Victoria Barkley goes after an Indian sick with a fatal disease, who is of a questionable character. Would they succeed in preventing him from spreading the disease to his tribe or risk disease themselves?
366"The Martyr"Virgil W. VogelMel GoldbergOctober 17, 1966 (1966-10-17)
Jarrod Barkley defends a Basque sheepherder accused of murder in a town of prejudice and hate.
377"Target"Arthur H. NadelMel GoldbergOctober 31, 1966 (1966-10-31)
Joshua Hawks in company with a high-minded manager sets out to cause misery and destroy the Barkleys no matter what it takes.
388"The Velvet Trap"Arthur H. NadelDon IngallsNovember 7, 1966 (1966-11-07)
A mysterious woman seduces Nick Barkley into a strange situation to rid her of her jealous husband, who stalks her numerous times.
399"The Man from Nowhere"Joseph H. LewisKen PettusNovember 14, 1966 (1966-11-14)
While on his way as a middle man in a land dispute, an accident puts Jarrod Barkley into a state of amnesia.
4010"The Great Safe Robbery"Virgil W. VogelWilliam NortonNovember 21, 1966 (1966-11-21)
Three bumbling robbers hold up a railway station, while Victoria and Audra Barkley are about to embark on a trip. They target a tough safe.
4111"The Iron Box"Bernard McEveetySteven W. CarabatsosNovember 28, 1966 (1966-11-28)
Nick and Heath Barkley are swindled in a business transaction; accused of stealing, a corrupt sheriff sentences them to a prison under the command of a tyrannical commandant, where the prisoners are never released.
4212"Last Stage to Salt Flats"Bernard McEveetyArthur Browne Jr.December 5, 1966 (1966-12-05)
Victoria, Jarrod, and Heath Barkley and their travelling companions are left stranded in the desert without water by three stagecoach robbers. A journey of survival ensues.
4313"A Day of Terror"Virgil W. VogelPeter PackerDecember 12, 1966 (1966-12-12)
A ruthless mother and her outlaw sons turn the church into a prison for Victoria, Audra, and Bible-class children.
4414"Hide the Children"Arthur H. NadelJack CurtisDecember 19, 1966 (1966-12-19)
Nick falsely accused a Gypsy vineyard worker of theft, and after injuring him in a fight, he reluctantly agrees to accompany the man's wife, daughter, and mother-in-law on a journey to the daughter's arranged marriage. Along the way, harassed by local townspeople, Nick finds himself mistaken for a Gypsy, and learns what it is like to be one of them. He also discovers some truths about Gypsies, the people who hate them simply because of prejudice, and his own bigotry.
4515"Day of the Comet"Virgil W. VogelGilbert RalstonDecember 26, 1966 (1966-12-26)
Audra Barkley takes a liking to a mysterious young man, who is a dreamer on the run due to reasons unknown.
4616"Wagonload of Dreams"Virgil W. VogelA.I. BezzeridesJanuary 2, 1967 (1967-01-02)
The Barkleys assist in business a man and his brother, who hopes for a bright future once he finally settles, only to be met by persons filled with malice and prejudice out to cause trouble for him.
4717"Image of Yesterday"Virgil W. VogelMargaret ArmenJanuary 9, 1967 (1967-01-09)
Victoria meets an old beau.
4818"Boy Into Man"Paul HenreidA.I. BezzeridesJanuary 16, 1967 (1967-01-16)
Heath Barkley, as well the rest of the Barkley family, seeks to help a troubled young man and his young siblings whose mother is absent.
4919"Down Shadow Street"Virgil W. VogelKen TreveyJanuary 23, 1967 (1967-01-23)
Victoria is taken to an asylum to prevent her from testifying to a recent murder.
5020"The Stallion"Paul HenreidGabrielle UptonJanuary 30, 1967 (1967-01-30)
An elderly ranch hand on the Barkley ranch obsesses over the capture of a rare black stallion; he thinks he is still youthful from his past, and tries to impress his daughter that he is capable of such feats.
5121"The Haunted Gun"Bernard McEveetyMel GoldbergFebruary 6, 1967 (1967-02-06)
The Barkleys meet a mysterious man, who has a strange case of paranoia, and is mentally disturbed by things from his past.
5222"Price of Victory"Bernard McEveetyWilliam NortonFebruary 13, 1967 (1967-02-13)
A struggling boxer takes a rest from the profession at Nick's request.
5323"Brother Love"Virgil W. VogelJay SimmsFebruary 20, 1967 (1967-02-20)
A fake faith healer comes to Stockton. He makes friends with Audra, but Heath is suspicious as to what his intentions are.
5424"Court Martial"Virgil W. VogelSteven W. CarabatsosMarch 6, 1967 (1967-03-06)
5525"Plunder!"Richard LongWilliam BlinnMarch 13, 1967 (1967-03-13)
5626"Turn of a Card"Virgil W. VogelStory by : Lou Morheim
Teleplay by : Gilbert Ralston
March 20, 1967 (1967-03-20)
5727"Showdown in Limbo"Bernard McEveetyStory by : Ken Pettus & Philip Mishkin
Teleplay by : Ken Pettus
March 27, 1967 (1967-03-27)
Heath stops in to visit an old friend and lawman, and upon learning his friend plans on transporting a notorious wanted outlaw to Stockton, with the outlaw's gang in hot pursuit and only his young and inexperienced son to help him, Heath decides he'll accompany them.
5828"The Lady from Mesa"Joseph MazzucaHarry KronmanApril 3, 1967 (1967-04-03)
A young woman comes to the Barkley Ranch to visit her sick father, a ranch hand who is a mysterious character.
5929"Days of Grace"Virgil W. VogelWilliam FayApril 17, 1967 (1967-04-17)
Heath is arrested and accused of rape of a rancher's daughter.
6030"Cage of Eagles"Virgil W. VogelHerb MeadowApril 24, 1967 (1967-04-24)

Season 3: 1967–68[edit]

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
611"Joaquin"Virgil W. VogelKen PettusSeptember 11, 1967 (1967-09-11)
A Barkley ranch hand is murdered, shortly after the man had claimed a newly hired hand was actually an infamous Mexican outlaw.
622"Ambush"Virgil W. VogelMargaret ArmenSeptember 18, 1967 (1967-09-18)
633"A Flock of Trouble"Virgil W. VogelMichael GleasonSeptember 25, 1967 (1967-09-25)
Nick is tricked into accepting a flock of sheep for payment of a poker debt, and while he does not like it any more than the rest of the neighboring cattlemen; when the cattlemen begin insulting, taunting, and threatening him, Nick decides he will get rid of the sheep when he is good and ready to.
644"Time After Midnight"Charles S. DubinSteven W. CarabatsosOctober 2, 1967 (1967-10-02)
Jarrod agrees to prosecute a land grabber, but his determination to see justice is severely tested when he is blinded in an explosion.
655"Night in a Small Town"Virgil W. VogelDon IngallsOctober 9, 1967 (1967-10-09)
Traveling on a stage, Heath, Victoria, Audra, and a wayward saloon girl, stop in a small town for the night, where the town marshal turns out to be an old friend of Heath's. The man, though, is clearly not the man Heath remembers.
666"Ladykiller"Norman S. PowellJay SimmsOctober 16, 1967 (1967-10-16)
One their way home from a cattle-buying trip, Nick and Heath stop at a family-run inn for the night, where Nick immediately falls for the attractive young woman serving them, completely unaware that the rest of her family and she plan on adding him to the long list of guests they have robbed and murdered.
677"Guilty"Paul HenreidHarry KronmanOctober 30, 1967 (1967-10-30)
688"The Disappearance"Virgil W. VogelStory by : Lou Morheim
Teleplay by : Michael Gleason
November 6, 1967 (1967-11-06)
A frantic Victoria searches for an ill Audra, who disappeared from a hotel and who no one claims to have seen.
699"A Noose is Waiting"Joseph MazzucaArthur Browne Jr.November 13, 1967 (1967-11-13)
The Barkleys become acquainted with the new town doctor, unaware that he is a psychotic killer out to avenge his father's suicide by hanging those he holds responsible, and Victoria is one of his targets.
7010"Explosion!: Part 1"Virgil W. VogelJohn O'Dea & Arthur RoweNovember 20, 1967 (1967-11-20)
A forest fire rages, drawing closer to Stockton. The only solution is a firebreak made with nitroglycerin!
7111"Explosion!: Part 2"Virgil W. VogelJohn O'Dea & Arthur RoweNovember 27, 1967 (1967-11-27)
A forest fire rages drawing closer to Stockton. The only solution, a firebreak made with nitroglycerin! The Barkley boys volunteer to take the nitroglycerin to the fire!
7212"Four Days to Furnace Hill"Virgil W. VogelKen PettusDecember 4, 1967 (1967-12-04)
Victoria is captured by crooked prison guards, who plan to substitute her for a convict they murdered.
7313"Night of the Executioner"Virgil W. VogelMel GoldbergDecember 11, 1967 (1967-12-11)
7414"Journey into Violence"Arnold LavenArthur Browne Jr.December 18, 1967 (1967-12-18)
A community of mountain dwellers, who live by their own laws, captures Heath and forces him into slavery for killing one of their own in self defense.
7515"The Buffalo Man"Joseph MazzucaMargaret ArmenDecember 25, 1967 (1967-12-25)
The Barkleys hire convicts to help with their crops as part of a parole system, but a sadistic guard is determined to make his charges miserable.
7616"The Good Thieves"Joseph MazzucaDan UllmanJanuary 1, 1968 (1968-01-01)
On the trail of the two thieving brothers who shot Jarrod during a robbery, Nick and Heath find them in a town where they are not only considered the leading citizens, but also practically saints.
7717"Days of Wrath"Virgil W. VogelKen PettusJanuary 8, 1968 (1968-01-08)
Wracked with grief when his new bride is murdered, an enraged Jarrod relentlessly hunts down her killer.
7818"Miranda"Paul HenreidKen PettusJanuary 15, 1968 (1968-01-15)
A wealthy Mexican visits the Barkleys and brings a valuable necklace. A female rebel comes to the ranch, planning to steal the necklace and bring it back to Mexico to help fund a revolution.
7919"Shadow of a Giant"Norman S. PowellSasha Gilien & Mel GoldbergJanuary 29, 1968 (1968-01-29)
Nick and Heath join a posse led by a legendary marshal, but the marshal is no longer the same man they knew in the past, and he has become reckless and endangers the lives of all of his deputies.
8020"Fall of a Hero"Virgil W. VogelDavid MoessingerFebruary 5, 1968 (1968-02-05)
8121"The Emperor of Rice"Virgil W. VogelMel GoldbergFebruary 12, 1968 (1968-02-12)
8222"Rimfire"Charles S. DubinMargaret ArmenFebruary 19, 1968 (1968-02-19)
Jarrod travels to complete a merger deal between another mining company and the Barkley mines, but problems arise when mineowners get in the way.
8323"Bounty on a Barkley"Arnold LavenJohn O'Dea & Jay SimmsFebruary 26, 1968 (1968-02-26)
Nick falls in love with a sly new woman in town, who slowly warms to his attentions, but she forgets to mention that she is already married.
8424"The Devil's Masquerade"Paul HenreidSasha Gilien & Mel GoldbergMarch 4, 1968 (1968-03-04)
8525"Run of the Savage"Virgil W. VogelDon IngallsMarch 11, 1968 (1968-03-11)
8626"The Challenge"Virgil W. VogelMargaret ArmenMarch 18, 1968 (1968-03-18)
A Senator comes to Stockton to campaign for re-election, but finds himself the target of a smear campaign that pulls Victoria in, as well.

Season 4: 1968–69[edit]

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
871"In Silent Battle"Charles S. DubinLee ErwinSeptember 23, 1968 (1968-09-23)
Victoria and Audra Barkley unexpectedly meets a commanding officer in the US Army who rescued them from a freak accident on the road. He takes an immediate liking to Audra, but unknown to them, he is a psychologically disturbed and is obsessed with purity.
882"They Called Her Delilah"Virgil W. VogelStory by : Lou Morheim
Teleplay by : Ken Pettus
September 30, 1968 (1968-09-30)
A mysterious woman arrives at Stockton, only to be the center of hate, prejudice, and ill will in the town. Jarrod Barkley is conflicted, as he had met her in the past, questioning her actions in the war.
893"Presumed Dead"Virgil W. VogelMargaret ArmenOctober 7, 1968 (1968-10-07)
on a stagecoach ride to Stockton, Victoria Barkley takes a rough, unexpected turn when she becomes amnesiastic. She meets a widower of a questionable character, who believes that she is his wife.
904"Run of the Cat"Bernard McEveetyEdward J. LaksoOctober 21, 1968 (1968-10-21)
Nick Barkley encounters a wild puma and has a near-death experience. He joins a man hired by the Barkleys to hunt the cat. much to his protests, fearing his safety and survival. Nick's life is in the balance.
915"Deathtown"Don TaylorEdward J. LaskoOctober 28, 1968 (1968-10-28)
Jarrod Barkley travels to a strange town intent on meeting three brothers for a business deal. Upon arrival, he hears that they have all been lynched, reasons unknown.
926"The Jonah"Virgil W. VogelEd AdamsonNovember 11, 1968 (1968-11-11)
The Barkleys meet a short, timid man, who is believed to be a jinx, as whatever he sets his hands to becomes a disaster.
937"Hell Hath No Fury"Virgil W. VogelSasha Gilien and Mel GoldbergNovember 18, 1968 (1968-11-18)
Heath has an interesting encounter with a young woman, who is obsessed with and plans to marry him, much to the objections of her brothers. Things may not be what they seem.
948"The Long Ride"Virgil W. VogelFred FreibergerNovember 25, 1968 (1968-11-25)
Audra witnesses the brutal murder of a close friend and her family. Victoria takes her home to Stockton by stagecoach, when the stage and its passengers are pursued by mysterious riders, who try to distrupt their journey by overturning wells and burning shelters. Audra is in shock and has been rendered mute. Victoria protects and fights for her daughter amid the negativity from the outside and the inside.
959"The Profit and the Lost"Bernard McEveetyRichard WendleyDecember 2, 1968 (1968-12-02)
Heath saves the life of a man, who turns out to be a hired killer on his way to Stockton to accept a job - killing Heath.
9610"A Stranger Everywhere"Paul HenreidLee ErwinDecember 9, 1968 (1968-12-09)
A woman who is a seamstress is believed by Nick and his friends to be a legendary outlaw.
9711"The Prize"Virgil W. VogelD. C. FontanaDecember 16, 1968 (1968-12-16)
Heath takes in his care and protection a baby entrusted to him by an outlaw's dying wife.
9812"Hunter's Moon"Bernard McEveetyDon IngallsDecember 30, 1968 (1968-12-30)
A jealous rancher holds Nick Barkley and two men captive, believing one of them to be his wife's outside lover. Nick attempts to escape, but has a shocking discovery.
9913"Top of the Stairs"Virgil W. VogelKen PettusJanuary 6, 1969 (1969-01-06)
Victoria is kept away from her brother-in-law, who is told he has become insane by mysterious persons.
10014"Joshua Watson"Virgil W. VogelRobert L. GoodwinJanuary 20, 1969 (1969-01-20)
An African-American cowboy is believed to be a legendary and special man with the ability to tame horses with ease. Silas, the Barkley's householder, questions his intentions and his existence.
10115"The Secret"Joseph MazzucaSasha Gilien & Mel GoldbergJanuary 27, 1969 (1969-01-27)
A man seeks to make the life of Jarrod Barley difficult; he believes that Jarrod and his wife are having an affair while he is absent on business.
10216"The 25 Graves of Midas"Richard LongKen PettusFebruary 3, 1969 (1969-02-03)
Heath Barkley, on his way to a mining town called Midas, is injured by a man who befriends him; the man turned out to be a robber. Heath is believed by the residents of the town to be a payroll robber; the residents have a grudge against the Barleys and their partner Dutton in the town's mining company.
10317"Lightfoot"Lawrence DobkinStory by : John O'Dea and Jay Simms
Teleplay by : Ken Pettus and John O'Dea & Jay Simms
February 17, 1969 (1969-02-17)
10418"Alias Nellie Handly"Virgil W. VogelMargaret ArmenFebruary 24, 1969 (1969-02-24)
Victoria Barley goes under cover at a women's prison to investigate the conditions there.
10519"Royal Road"Virgil W. VogelKen PettusMarch 3, 1969 (1969-03-03)
A young woman has a strange friendship with a young man believed to be an Indian prince, who has for his mentor a man of a questionable character. Jarrod tries to warn her.
10620"A Passage of Saints"Nicholas WebsterJohn DunkelMarch 10, 1969 (1969-03-10)
The Barkleys unknowingly rent a farm to a Mormon polygamist.
10721"The Battle of Mineral Springs"Virgil W. VogelDouglas MooreMarch 24, 1969 (1969-03-24)
Victoria and Jarrod stop in a town having outrageous prices for food, lodging, and services. After finding out the people are bilking travelers to survive, the Barkleys decide to open a shipping business to save the town.
10822"The Other Face of Justice"Virgil W. VogelDon IngallsMarch 31, 1969 (1969-03-31)
Nick and Heath, on the trail of a gang of murderous raiders stealing horses, enlist the help of the ex-sheriff of Stockton. The motivation behind his "help", however, is totally unexpected by the Barkleys.
10923"Town of No Exit"Norman S. PowellWilliam NortonApril 7, 1969 (1969-04-07)
In a dying desert town, Heath is imprisoned by five deranged people who play bizarre and deadly games with the few people who happen onto their town.
11024"Danger Road"Virgil W. VogelD. C. FontanaApril 21, 1969 (1969-04-21)
An Englishman with a large gambling debt agrees to smuggle whiskey onto an Indian reservation to pay off his losses. As he travels to his destination, he meets Victoria, who is on her way to the reservation with medical supplies, and they find the road there is full of unexpected danger.
11125"Flight from San Miguel"Lawrence DobkinEdward J. LaskoApril 28, 1969 (1969-04-28)
A former girlfriend asks Heath to undertakes a dangerous trip to revolution-torn Mexico to save her rebel Mexican husband out of Mexico, before the federales find and kill him.
11226"Point and Counterpoint"James F. LichtmanArthur Browne Jr.May 19, 1969 (1969-05-19)

Guest stars[edit]

The Big Valley was well known for its many guest stars, including:


Despite the series' popularity, its ratings never made the top 30 in the yearly ratings charts. The Big Valley was cancelled in 1969 as the TV Western craze began to fade, and to make room for more modern series.[3] In Ella Smith's 1973 biography, Starring Miss Barbara Stanwyck, Smith noted that The Big Valley had been cancelled by ABC mainly due to a poor time slot. In better times, the series had been enough of a hit to outlive various time-slot rivals during its run (mainly on Mondays at 10 pm), including The Jean Arthur Show, Run for Your Life, and I Spy. According to Broadcasting magazine (September 27, 1965), its debut episode (actually Wednesday at 9 pm, where the series aired for half the season) placed 39th in the Nielsen ratings for the week of September 13–19, 1965.

The Big Valley also was ranked as one of the top-five favorite new shows in viewer TVQ polling (the others were Get Smart, I Dream of Jeannie, Lost in Space, and F Troop). Early into its second season, The Big Valley was still a midrange performer, placing 47th out of just 88 series during the week of October 28, 1966, which was higher than such shows as That Girl, Daniel Boone, Petticoat Junction, and The Wild Wild West. Even so, The Big Valley was popular enough to warrant at least three TV Guide covers. It also acted as a launching pad for two projected spin-offs from special episodes. A 1968 episode guest-starring Van Williams was meant to lead to a Rifleman-like series titled Rimfire. A March 1969 episode, "The Royal Road", guest-starring heartthrob Sajid Khan as a young rogue, was also hoped to lead to a series, but by that year, the rising popularity of CBS's The Carol Burnett Show — and vocal complaints by Joey Bishop, ABC's late-night talk show host, that the show's faltering ratings were not helping to provide his program with a proper lead-in — ultimately led to the drama's demise. In syndication, The Big Valley proved exceptionally popular in the United States, Europe, and Latin America.

In the comedy film Airplane! (1980), the wacky air traffic controller Johnny, played by Stephen Stucker, paid homage to Big Valley's penchant for big drama in one of his many asides. After Lloyd Bridges' character frets about a pilot who cracked under pressure, Johnny says: "It happened to Barbara Stanwyck!" and "Nick, Heath, Jarrod – there's a fire in the barn!"[4] The Big Valley also has seeped into the darker cinematic subconscious. In Bug, an acclaimed 2006 thriller starring Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon as drug addicts, their characters spiral into a hallucination that leads them to imagine tiny bugs have invaded their dwelling, with one referring to the little critters as "matriarchal aphids" that act "like Barbara Stanwyck in Big Valley."[5]

Awards and nominations[edit]

In 1966, for her first season as Victoria Barkley, Barbara Stanwyck won the Emmy for lead actress in a drama series. She was nominated two more times (1967 and 1968) for her work in The Big Valley and earned three Golden Globe nominations as Best TV Star for the part, as well (1966, 1967, 1968). On March 15, 1967, Stanwyck was named favorite TV actress at the Photoplay magazine awards, which aired as a special episode of The Merv Griffin Show (David Janssen of The Fugitive was named favorite TV actor). Richard Long helped present Stanwyck her Gold Medal at the event.

The Big Valley was also recognized during its run for its polished production. In 1966 and 1968, the American Cinema Editors named Valley the year's Best Edited Television Program (for the episodes "40 Rifles" and "Disappearance", respectively).


The series’ main title theme and primary incidental music were composed by George Duning and feature sweeping musical elements highly reminiscent of classic American cinematic Westerns. For at least the first pilot episode, the theme song starts with a more relaxed woodwinds introduction leading into the title refrain at a moderate tempo. For the remainder of season one, the tempo is increased and the intro is shortened, with much more aggressive phrasing. For seasons three and four, the main theme was reworked again, with a much more brass-heavy orchestration. The final refrain (when Miss Barbara Stanwick's credits are shown), includes an underlying Spanish rhythm outlined with tambourine that is similar to that of The Magnificent Seven main title. Therefore, at least three versions of the theme song were recorded for the series.

In 1966, a soundtrack album was released in both monoaural and stereo versions, featuring suites of various music cues from the series, re-recorded for the LP release (ABC-Paramount; ABC 527). The album featured the iconic main theme song, but at slower tempos, giving them a more cinematic mood. To date, the album has not been re-released on compact disc or streaming. In 1980, the LP was reissued on vinyl on MCA Records for the Japanese market.

Re-recordings of the main theme song to The Big Valley have appeared on several Western movie-music compilation compact discs, and can currently be found on most music streaming services.

Production notes[edit]

While The Big Valley is set primarily in and near the city of Stockton, the filming of the series took place in Southern California. It was partially filmed in Wildwood Regional Park in Thousand Oaks, California.[6][7]

A bit of Hollywood history: Nick's girlfriend in "The River Monarch" wears an open-weave/knit gray coat with red trim that was worn by Olivia de Havilland as Melanie Wilkes in the Atlanta train station Christmas scene in Gone With the Wind.

Stanwyck and Evans in character in one of the later seasons


The theme music was composed by George Duning, who also scored the pilot and four episodes; Lalo Schifrin, Elmer Bernstein, and Joseph Mullendore also scored episodes. Paul Henreid, of Casablanca fame, directed a number of episodes.

Wilfred M. Cline,Technicolor associate cinematographer on Gone with the Wind (1939), was director of photography for several Big Valley episodes, together with Chas E. Burke.


Comic book[edit]

Dell Comics published a short-lived comic book for six issues in 1966-69. (The last issue reprinted the first, and came out two years after issue #5). All issues had photo covers.


Film columnist Patrick Goldstein reported in the Los Angeles Times in July 2009 that filmmakers Daniel Adams and Kate Edelman Johnson were producing a feature-film version of The Big Valley with production to begin in April 2010 in New Mexico and Michigan.[8] In 2012, the aforementioned film version of The Big Valley, which was to have first starred Susan Sarandon and then Jessica Lange in the role of Victoria Barkley, was put on hold indefinitely after the film's would-be director, Daniel Adams, was indicted for fraud pertaining to two previous films and sued by investors in "Valley" who claimed foul, as well.[9][10][11][12]

Several episodes of the original TV series have been combined into concurrent-running feature-length TV movies, while the notable two-part episodes, "Legend of a General" and "Explosion!", have also been made into feature-length TV movies. These have been issued as TV movies on DVD as a box set, along with seasons one and two.

Home media[edit]

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released the first season on DVD in Region 1 on May 16, 2006.[13] Season 2, Volume 1 was released on January 30, 2007.[13]

On January 8, 2014, Timeless Media Group announced it had acquired the rights to the series.[14] They have subsequently released seasons 2 & 3 on DVD.[15][16] The fourth and final season was released on October 28, 2014.[17]

In Germany, all four seasons have been released as individual season sets, plus a complete four-season box set in region 2 PAL format.


The series was aired on #Talking Pictures TV. in the UK (2018).

In the United States, the series was formerly seen in syndication on the Starz! Westerns Channel. It is now currently airing on MeTV and INSP: The Inspiration Network (2018)


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ "They Called Her Delilah." aired Sept 30, 1968, second episode in the fourth and final season.
  3. ^ Westerns on television
  4. ^ "The Best of Johnny from Airplane! from AirplaneFan". 2008-10-09. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
  5. ^ Solomons, Jason (November 10, 2007). "Bug". The Guardian. London.
  6. ^ Schad, Jerry (2009). Los Angeles County: A Comprehensive Hiking Guide. Wilderness Press. Pages 35-36. ISBN 9780899976396.
  7. ^ Medved, Harry and Bruce Akiyama (2007). Hollywood Escapes: The Moviegoer's Guide to Exploring Southern California's Great Outdoors. St. Martin's Press. Page 279. ISBN 9781429907170.
  8. ^ "The Remake Watch: 'Big Valley' edition". Los Angeles Times. 2009-07-15. Retrieved 2009-07-26.
  9. ^ Fernandez, Jay A. "Susan Sarandon eyeing 'Big Valley'". The Hollywood Reporter.
  10. ^ [1] Archived June 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Movie Director Indicted in $4.7 Million Tax Rebate Fraud Case". The Hollywood Reporter. December 12, 2011.
  12. ^ "Courthouse News Service". 2012-07-31. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
  13. ^ a b "The Big Valley DVD news: Revised Artwork No Longer Worth $12 Million". Archived from the original on 2014-07-30. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
  14. ^ A Long-Awaited (and Complete) 'Season 2' DVD Set is Coming! Archived 2014-02-22 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "The Big Valley DVD news: Revised Box Art for The Big Valley - Season 2". 2014-01-31. Archived from the original on 2014-07-30. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
  16. ^ 'Season 3' is t Scheduled: Date, Cost, Package Art Archived 2014-04-13 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ The 4th and 'Final Season' is Scheduled for DVD this Fall Archived 2014-08-10 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]